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Tuesday, November 9, 1999

Commissions steer bus deal to new firm

Staff Writer
PECOS, Nov. 9, 1999 - A San Angelo company was awarded the bus transportation contract for the Reeves County Detention Center on Monday, after Reeves County Commissioners listened to two proposals during their regularly scheduled meeting.

The proposal by Ted Springer, a representative of Bus USA of San Angelo was accepted by commissioners over a bid by the current contract holder, Odessa-based All Aboard, whose representative, Bert Bealls, was also on hand.

Both made a presentation to the court in hopes of winning the contract to provide bus service for the Reeves County Detention Center for the transportation of inmates.

"This is something that we've asked Warden (Rudy) Franco and his staff to look at very comprehensively, in order to provide a better service to the Bureau of Prisons," said Reeves County Judge Jimmy B. Galindo.

Galindo said Franco and his staff had looked at the item from every aspect and came up with a good proposal.

"The proposal is pretty self-evident," said RCDC Warden Rudy Franco. "We came up with a proposal that will work for us and keep the BOP satisfied with our services."

Springer, a former highway patrol officer, told the group that if he received the bid for bus transportation, he would act in a very professional and very helpful manner. "I would do my best to provide the service that is required," he said.

"It's real important to me to be flexible and to deliver," said Springer.

He told commissioners he has been in the bus transportation business since 1969, after leaving his job with the highway patrol.

"The main thing to me, is the service to the people, the job getting done the way it should be done," he said.

Springer stated that right now, the county is spending $180,000 for bus transportation services. "My proposal is for $150,000, which would mean a savings of $30,000," he said. "I'm also looking at purchasing a new bus, with a door in the back, so the guards can get in and out without going through the whole bus."

The new bus will also be longer, have a space for a cot and drink cart, according to Springer. "And of course, it will be a caged bus," he said adding that the bus would have a warranty.

Springer stated that he was in the process of becoming a reserve officer in Tom Green County and if awarded the bid would also like to do the same here.

"I believe in working closely with law enforcement," he said.

Springer told the group that he also believed the guards should be trained to drive the bus in case something happened to the bus driver.

All-Aboard, the current bus transportation service provider, told commissioners they had been providing this service for the county for 13 years.

"At the beginning it was a trial and error experience," said Bealls. "Until 1992, it was an uncaged bus, until Reeves County and BOP told us it had to be cages," she said.

"We had several meetings and came up with a bus that would serve your needs," said Bealls.

Bealls said that All-Aboard is fully regulated with the Department of Transportation and the company also provided services for Pennzoil, which is located 40 miles northwest of Pecos.

"We have very experienced employees and bus drivers," she said.

Bealls also said that in discussions with both the warden and other personnel, she thought Reeves County was asking for a second bus as a backup bus.

"I understood that you wanted us to also provide a second bus, in case something happened en route to where the inmates were being transported," she said.

"The criticalness is not a second bus, but the quality of the first bus," said Galindo.

"My point is not about a second bus, but to have a good, reliable first bus, we've had breakdowns that have to led to people being stranded on occasion," he said. "In those 13 years, we have had the same bus."

Bealls stated that she understood the problem, but that mechanical problems will happen regardless. "That incident in Rosenberg (a bus breakdown in the Houston area) was an isolated incident and probably the first time we couldn't get a second bus out there," she said. "But we got there as soon as possible and on their way."

Galindo said the other issue was the cost of service. "We've seen a rise and fall, and in the past two years have seen an increase," he said.

Franco stated that a second bus had been a topic of discussion, because the U.S. Marshals had asked for their help in transportation. "However, that never materialized and we didn't assist them," said Franco. "We discussed that about a year or so ago, but I don't think that's a driving factor now."
"It would have been if we would have gotten more business from the U.S. Marshals or BOP," he said.

"There's several issues that need to be clarified," said Galindo. "If the bid award is made based on what is on the table, we may end up with an old, inferior bus."

County auditor Lynn Owens stated that after the bid was awarded the contract could be negotiated. "You can't sit down and negotiate prices, but bus and quality of service you can negotiate that," he said.

Reeves County Commissioner Precinct 3 Herman Tarin made the motion to award the bid to Bus USA.

The goal will be to have a new bus, completely rebuilt and caged, according to Springer.

In other business, legal services for Reeves County Reapportionment/Redistricting based on 2000 Census were awarded to Rolando Rios and his firm, out of San Antonio, at a total cost of $5,500.

"His law firm will obtain approval from the U.S. Department of Justice, under Federal Voters Act," said Galindo.

"I think it will be good to have legal counsel for this process," he said.

Galindo told the court that he had spoken to Ward County Judge Sam Massey, who had also hired Rios for this purpose. "He said they did an excellent job, 10 years ago, when they did the redistricting in Ward County," said Galindo.

Houston firm gets Red Bluff repair contract

Staff Writer
PECOS, Nov. 9, 1999 - A Houston firm was awarded the contract for Phase I rehabilitation of Red Bluff Dam on Monday, during the monthly meeting of the Red Bluff Water Power Control District board.

Stolt-Comex-Seaway's bid of $122,105 for the first part of the two-year project was the lowest of the five bids submitted, board members were told by Rich Shoemaker of HDR Engineering, the firm supervising the rehabilitation work on the 63-year-old dam. The board then approved the agreement.

Phase I involves blocking off water flow into the dam this winter in order to inspect the dam's deteriorating gates and interior valves. Only one of the two gates on the dam currently works, and it is slightly out of alignment. Repairs to the dam and installation of two new stainless steel gates are scheduled for the winter of 2000-2001.

Shoemaker said the Stolt-Comex-Seaway plans to begin Phase I work in January. "They're a big company, and they can finish it in three weeks," he told the board, adding that last year, the company bought out American Inland Divers, which did the initial inspection of Red Bluff Dam for the project two years ago.

"The purpose of this phase is to minimize surprises for when we get around to the new equipment installation," Shoemaker said. "We'll come out of this knowing how to seal the tunnels up. We won't have to be guessing off old drawings."

Stolt-Comex-Seaway's bid was $16,000 less than the next lowest bid, by S&J Diving. Other bids were $147,200 by Orlon Construction, $168,175 by Inland Divers and $278,268 by Oceanic International. However, Shoemaker said S&J and Orlon failed to provide the written specifications required in the bid proposal.

"One-hundred twenty-two thousand is a lot of money, but I had visions of it being $200,000," Red Bluff General Manager Jim Ed Miller said. The final cost of the project was estimated at $750,000, but Shoemaker said it might come in under budget.

HDR is currently working on final bid specifications for the building of the new gates. "I hope to get the equipment specification contract out by Thanksgiving," he said. The contract would be awarded sometime in early January, and the gates _ at an estimated cost of $150,000 _ would take about six months to build.

In other business, the board voted to support a resolution in opposition to a proposed low-level radioactive waste site northeast of Barstow in Ward County. Other local governmental bodies have also voiced their opposition to the plan by Envirocare of Texas, which is seeking to build an above-ground storage site either near Barstow or at two other sites, one in Loving County.

Board members focused on the problems Envirocare's parent company has had with regulatory officials in Utah, where the firm is headquartered.

"I read letter after letter showing how this company, Envirocare, lied and lied and lied to the Utah people," said board member Charlotte Wilcox, while board member Teresa Walker questioned how well a concrete storage facility would hold up as a storage site for the waste, some of which can remain dangerous for thousands of years.

Board member Richard Slack felt the items stored in such a dump would not be as big a threat as some people have indicated.

"The hard (high-level radioactive) stuff goes to Carlsbad (the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant). I can't imagine, and neither can anybody else imagine in geological time, that stuff coming to the surface," he said.

"If you're all opposed to it, go ahead. I just don't get alarmed about this stuff," Slack added.

"West Texas and the western portion of the United States is not populated heavily, so we're going to have a lot of stuff pushed on us," said board president Randall Hartman.

Miller asked why federal land wasn't used for a storage site. Over half the land in states west of Texas is owned by the federal government, but board member Lloyd Goodrich said, "Regulations are less strict if you put it on private property land, and all the private property is in Texas."

In other business, the board voted to contract with Randy Graham of Wuster, Armstrong & Williamson, P.C. for the district's fiscal 1999 audit, approved merit bonuses for district employees and approved October cash disbursements and accounts payable.

In general discussion, board members briefly went over the status of the salt cedar eradication project along the Pecos River. Goodrich said spraying of the trees with Arsenal has been done along the river from the dam south to the State Highway 302 bridge near Mentone, and Barney Lee of the Soil Conservation Service has talked with water districts south of Girvin and with the Army Corps of Engineers in New Mexico about extending the project to the north and south of Red Bluff and its member districts.

"The Corps of Engineers is taking about putting $1 million into it," Goodrich said. Board member Jay Lee added the Army would like to get the "Texas label" for Arsenal use along the river approved in New Mexico. Miller said the Bureau of Reclamation in New Mexico has fought spraying salt cedars on federal lands there, and a test project along the river south of Artesia, N.M. was conducted on private property.

Wilcox also asked Miller to see if 400 acre/feet of water could be diverted to her district in the Grandfalls area, a move that did not require a board vote.

"If the district overruns not more than 10 percent, we can go ahead and charge you for it," Miller said, though Hartman added, "We don't want to set a precedent where everybody overruns their allotment and thinks they can make up the difference."

Summer rains helped push the water level at Red Bluff Lake up to 85,343 acre/feet as of Nov. 1, and Imperial Reservoir also has more water at this time of year than at the end of recent growing seasons. "We should be able to make a bigger allotment (in 2000) than last year," Miller said.

Trio convicted in alien smuggling case

PECOS, Nov. 9, 1999 - Three men were found guilty, one in absentia, of smuggling illegal aliens into the United States, a federal court jury decided on Monday.

Juan Oliveros-Munoz, Raul Betancourt-Lara and Javier Vera-Munoz were convicted on four counts of transporting illegal aliens, following the trial before visiting judge Peter Beer of New Orleans. The three were charged after their arrests on Aug. 14 south of Marathon, according to assistant U.S. Attorney Jeff Parras. The three were charged with attempting to bring 29 illegal aliens into the United States.

Parras said it was incorrectly reported in Monday's Enterprise that both Raul Betancourt-Lara and Vera-Munoz failed to appear in court for the trial. Parras said only Vera-Munoz did not appear before Judge Beer, but Bentancourt-Lara's brother Raul Bentancourt-Lara did not appear in federal court last week. All four men were out on bond pending their trials in federal court.

Bench warrants have been issued for the arrest of both Vera-Munoz and Juan Bentancourt-Lara. Oliveros-Munoz and Raul Bentancourt-Lara were taken into custody following the verdict, and a sentencing date has been scheduled for January, Parras said.

Parras handled the case for the government in place of AUSA John Klassen, whose wife gave birth to a baby over the weekend.

Judge Beer was overseeing the second of four criminial trials scheduled this week in Pecos federal court. George Guzman is on trial today on charges of conspiracy and possession with intent to distribute marijuana. Nicole LeAn Meek will go on trial Wednesday on one count of marijuana possession with intent to distribute and on Thursday, trial is scheduled for Ruben Alarcon Pinon, Llama Edmidia Alarcon and Sergio Alarcon-Lopez on charges of conspiracy, possession of marijuana and use of a minor to avoid detection.


AUSTIN (AP) Results of the Cash 5 drawing Monday night: Winning numbers drawn: 3-13-15-18-30. Number matching five of five: 1. Prize per winner: $77,457. Winning tickets sold in: Rockdale. Matching four of five: 236. Prize: $493.


AUSTIN (AP) The winning Pick 3 numbers drawn Monday by the Texas Lottery, in order: 1-6-8 (one, six, eight)


Fred Gerke

Fred Gerke, Jr., 59, of Pecos, died Sunday, Nov. 7, 1999, at Westwood Medical Center in Midland.

Graveside services are scheduled for 2 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 10, at Mt. Evergreen Cemetery with Father Ben Flores officiating.

He was born June 30, 1940, in Port Neches, a retired farmer and a Catholic.

Survivors include two sons, Fred Gerke III of Arlington and Michael Gerke of Odessa; two brothers, Thomas L. Gerke of Pecos, Calvin G. Gerke of Barstow and four grandchildren.

Pecos Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

Jacob Hernandez

Jacob Hernandez, 37, of Alpine, died Friday, Nov. 5, 1999, at Big Bend Regional Medical Center in Alpine. A rosary was held at 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 8, 1999, at Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church in Alpine, with a funeral mass at 11 a.m. today. Burial will be in the Holy Angel Cemetery in Alpine, under the direction of Martinez Funeral Home.

Hernandez was a former employee of the funeral home in Pecos. He was born on Nov. 19, 1961 in Idalou, and had lived in Alpine for the past eight years. He was a Catholic.

Survivors include his wife, Maria B. Hernandez of Alpine; his parents, Benito Hernandez and Maria Hernandez of Friona; two daughters, Joshua Marie Hernandez and Angel Hernanedez on Alpine; one son, Le Roy Justin Gonzales of Alpine; two brothers, Jose Hernandez of Dallas and Jessie Hernandez of Friona; and four sisters, Sylvia Sais of Friona, Sandra Hernandez of Lubbock, Susie O'Toole of Friona and Sally Cox of Comanche.


High Monday 83. Low this morning 49. Forecast for tonight: Partly cloudy. Low in the upper 40s. Wind light and variable. Wednesday: Partly cloudy. High in the mid to upper 70s. North to northeast wind 10 to 15 mph. Wednesday night: Partly cloudy. Low in the mid 40s.

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Pecos Enterprise
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